Alumnus Jason Rounds inspires RIT Baja Racing and influences the growth of SAE Baja competitions Alumni, Events, Students

RIT alumnus Jason Rounds ’02 (mechanical engineering technology) is not only a champion in his own right—he competed as an undergraduate on RIT’s Baja race team—but he also “champions” the Baja organization.

Jason Rounds (right) gets ready to check out the course just before the Baja endurance race begins. Joining him is Cody Whelan, SAE risk management specialist.

Jason Rounds (right) gets ready to check out the course just before the Baja endurance race begins. Joining him is Cody Whelan, SAE risk management specialist.

I had the chance to meet him and his sister, Leah ’02 (business), at the Baja SAE World Challenge this past weekend. He is one of many former Baja competitors who enthusiastically returns to participate in events, as volunteers, judges and overall supporters of an exciting and inspiring race community. But he’s pretty inspiring in his own right:

“The SAE Baja program impacted my life as a student,” says Rounds. “I spent countless hours working on a team to create a successful program at RIT. While doing this it provided me experiences that prepared me to be a successful engineer within the automotive and truck industry. The skills that I learned from the program helped my career excel much quicker than my peers.”

Rounds is currently engineering manager for Navistar Truck Group’s Body Engineering Center of Excellence. Like many volunteers who participate at the SAE Baja events around the country, he takes time off from work to attend.

But he more than attends: For the RIT challenge, he was co-organizer, led the dynamic event logistics and judging and kept a close eye on the course as cars went speeding up and down muddy hills. He also has provided improvements and best practices to the important technical and safety inspections required at competitions.

All Baja cars are put through an intense technical inspection. Jason Rounds helped establish some of Baja's 'best practices.'

All Baja cars are put through an intense technical inspection. Jason Rounds helped establish some of Baja’s ‘best practices.’

He was instrumental in ensuring that the technical judging at events was raised to an even higher level, working to provide a consistent training platform for volunteer judges and to ensure that these same judges participated at each of the national events.

Here’s a bit more about his contributions to SAE:  http://bit.ly/14X15rA

“I felt indebted to the program, and as a student I noticed many areas within the SAE Baja event that I thought I could help improve,” he adds.  “I met with SAE and drafted up a proposal on how things could be changed for the better and they agreed. I meet with thousands of students each year with the hope of providing them an experience even better than the one I had.”

Jason was one of RIT’s early Baja participants, a fearless course driver, and now one of the event’s biggest champions.

 

Leah (third from right) with Team Honda, says the events enable the students to get hand-on experience to use in the future.

Leah (third from right) with Team Honda, says the events enable the students to get hand-on experience to use in the future.

 

 

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